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|Giants roll to Game 4 victory
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10/06/2002 10:29 pm ET
Giants roll to Game 4 victory
Hernandez, Aurilia lead way to force deciding game
By Josh Rawitch / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- For nine long innings across the Bay, the A's made their fans' hearts race, watching each pitch of a one-run game with fingers crossed and hopes high.
The Giants did not want to make their fans go through the same strife.
Before a Pacific Bell Park record crowd of 43,073, San Francisco put seven runs on the board in the first three innings and cruised to an 8-3 defeat of the Braves in Game 4 of the National League Division Series, forcing a fifth and deciding game Monday in Atlanta.
Livan Hernandez, who had never lost in his five playoff starts, pitched 8 1/3 strong innings to improve his postseason record to 6-0 with a 3.53 ERA. The right-hander took a no-hitter into the fifth inning while striking out six and walking just two. Then again, with the way the Giants swung the bat they could have brought back much-maligned reliever Manny Aybar on one day of rest and still come out on top.
"I tried to not put pressure in my mind," said Hernandez. "I know it's a big game and on the workout in the morning, I [did] everything perfect."
So did his teammates.
It started from the first batter of the game for San Francisco, as Kenny Lofton ripped a Tom Glavine offering into left field and advanced to second on Rich Aurilia's hard-hit single to center. A walk to Jeff Kent loaded the bases and Barry Bonds' sacrifice fly gave the Giants the lead.
That alone should have made the Giants feel comfortable, as they have posted a 66-24 record this season when getting on the scoreboard first, but they were far from finished. Benito Santiago's broken-bat groundout brought home another run, and in the second inning Glavine (0-2) shattered Aurilia's bat as well, yet the result was a run-scoring single. After Kent blooped a single off shortstop Rafael Furcal's glove to put runners at first and third, the Braves opted to intentionally walk Bonds to load the bases. The next batter, Santiago, drew a walk and the Giants had a four-run lead.
It was hardly what all the so-called experts had predicted, many of which gave the Giants no chance in the short series with Atlanta.
"We're playing a great team and I can see them thinking that they'd beat us, but to give us no chance, I don't agree with that," said third baseman David Bell. "We're too good of a team not to have any chance against them."
Meanwhile, with all the cracked lumber, it would be easy to believe Glavine was bitten by bad luck. Aurilia cleared up any misconceptions, slamming a three-run homer in the third inning that whipped the boisterous crowd into a frenzy, as it performed its own version of Atlanta's famed "Tomahawk Chop" for the first of several times on the evening.
"It was a warm day and the ball carries well here when it's warm," said Aurilia, who finished the game with four RBIs. "I think the key for today's game, like we did in Game 1, we had a lot of key two-out RBIs."
Atlanta spoiled Hernandez's shutout bid in the fifth inning when Vinny Castilla's popup dropped beside the mound for the Braves' first hit of the game. Keith Lockhart's infield single put runners on first and second and Furcal's double to right gave Atlanta its first run. The Braves scored twice in the sixth inning on an RBI double by Javy Lopez and a run-scoring single by Castilla, but Hernandez (1-0) retired eight of his last 10 batters before Scott Eyre and Robb Nen recorded the final two outs for San Francisco.
Before the game, the sellout crowd at Pacific Bell Park watched on the Astrovision board with mixed emotions as Minnesota accomplished exactly what the Giants were setting out to do -- erase a 2-1 deficit in its series against Oakland while playing the finale on the road.
"Their series showed a lot of heart and showed a lot of character," said Reggie Sanders. "It pumped us up because we were in here watching, just to see how it all transpired, so it was a motivating factor for us."
What a difference a week makes. Seven days ago, the last thing the Giants wanted to do was fly all the way to Atlanta to play one game. Now, their season rests on that very concept. A weird twist, no doubt, but so is the outcome of each of the first four games.
"These games have been lopsided," said Bonds, still sporting his game face. "There's never been really close games. Each team has had a lot of runs on each other."
But when Bonds was reminded that the teams have taken turns on the winning side the last two games, the left fielder cracked a smile.
"We don't want it to be their turn," he said. "Let's just play."
Josh Rawitch is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at email@example.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
|San Francisco Giants 8, Atlanta Braves 3|
|Atlanta|| AB|| R|| H|| RBI|| BB||SO||LOB||AVG|
|Franco, J, 1B
|Jones, C, LF
|Jones, A, CF
|Lopez, J, C
|c-Franco, M, PH
a-Grounded into a double play for Gryboski in the 5th. b-Grounded out for Moss in the 7th. c-Batted for Ligtenberg in the 9th. d-Singled for Franco, M in the 9th.
2B: Furcal (1, Hernandez), Lopez, J (1, Hernandez), Jones, A (1, Hernandez).
RBI: Furcal (2), Lopez, J (4), Castilla (4).
2-out RBI: Furcal, Lopez, J, Castilla.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Glavine 2, Franco, J 3, Lopez, J.
Team LOB: 8.
|San Francisco|| AB|| R|| H|| RBI|| BB||SO||LOB||AVG|
2B: Sanders (1, Gryboski), Santiago (2, Moss).
HR: Aurilia (2, 3rd inning off Glavine, 2 on, 2 out).
RBI: Bonds (3), Santiago 3 (5), Aurilia 4 (7).
2-out RBI: Aurilia 3, Santiago 2.
S: Hernandez 2.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Snow, Sanders 3, Hernandez.
Team LOB: 10.
|San Francisco|| IP|| H|| R|| ER|| BB||SO||HR||ERA|
|Hernandez (W, 1-0)
IBB: Sanders (by Glavine), Bonds (by Glavine), Snow (by Gryboski).
HBP: Lockhart (by Hernandez).
Pitches-strikes: Glavine 68-34, Gryboski 21-11, Moss 26-16, Ligtenberg 14-11, Hernandez 117-76, Eyre 5-5, Nen 2-2.
Ground outs-fly outs: Glavine 4-3, Gryboski 3-1, Moss 2-3, Ligtenberg 2-3, Hernandez 12-7, Eyre 1-0, Nen 1-0.
Batters faced: Glavine 20, Gryboski 7, Moss 9, Ligtenberg 6, Hernandez 35, Eyre 2, Nen 1.
Inherited runners-scored: Eyre 1-0, Nen 2-0.
Umpires: HP: Gary Darling. 1B: Steve Rippley. 2B: Mark Hirschbeck. 3B: Bruce Froemming. LF: Bill Miller. RF: Ron Kulpa.
Weather: 80 degrees, sunny.
Wind: 9 mph, Out to CF.
Box score official statistics approved by Major League Baseball and the Office of the Commissioner